More Avios booking quirks …. confusion over Gold Priority Reward pricing

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I wrote a piece yesterday covering the confusion that is occuring when readers try to book a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher trip by adding a return flight to an existing one-way booking.

This isn’t the only bit of Avios booking confusion at the moment.

There is also confusion at the British Airways call centre over Gold Priority Rewards.

Booking a Gold Priority Reward

What is a Gold Priority Reward?

Very simply, a British Airways Gold member can book a seat on ANY BA flight using Avios.  The catch is that you have to use DOUBLE the normal amount.

You cannot use an American Express 2-4-1 voucher.  You cannot book on BA CityFlyer services from London City Airport.  Your flight must be booked more than 30 days before departure.

There is some further information on the BA Gold benefits page here.

These rewards are poor value for long haul – how does 240,000 Avios + £550ish of tax for a return to Dubai in Club World sound?  For short-haul European bookings, these rewards have some use.  Let’s take our standard run to Hamburg to visit the parents in law.

A standard Avios reward ticket on a peak day is 9,000 Avios + £35 taxes

A ‘Priority Reward’ would cost me 18,000 Avios + £35 taxes

Let’s look at the costs here.  If a flight has no Avios availability, it is likely to be a busy flight.  This means that the cash price is also likely to be higher than average.  Let’s assume we are heading to Heathrow from school on a Friday afternoon and need to be on a particular service.

Assume £175 return to Hamburg for cash in Economy, Friday night to Sunday night, booked six weeks in advance.  Knock off the £35 Reward Flight Saver tax charge and I am saving £140 for using 18,000 Avios points.

This is not the greatest use of Avios by any means – we are looking at 0.78p per point.. However, I am locking in a hard cash saving and I get to travel on the exact flights I want, with flexibility to cancel if a last minute birthday party invite comes in.  0.78p per point is also not a terrible deal.

Importantly, I also can cancel the BA ‘Gold Priority Reward’ and switch to a normal reward at any point as long as seats open up.

The best use of Gold Priority Rewards flights is for ski resorts at February half term.  British Airways likes to push up economy tickets to £500 if you want Saturday to Saturday – which is what the hotels often insist on – and this is an excellent way to avoid that.  It arguably justifies a push for a Gold card on its own if you are getting close.

British Airways Gold Priority Reward

But things have changed …..

As we have covered extensively on Head for Points over the Summer, British Airways is currently trialling a new structure for short-haul Avios pricing.

As well as the standard option (9,000 Avios + £35 to Hamburg) you are now offered a series of options requiring as little as £1 in charges.  This is what Hamburg shows on ba.com for a peak day:

16,000 Avios + £1
12,500 Avios + £21
9,000 Avios + £31
6,600 Avios + £71
5,600 Avios + £81
5,000 Avios + £91

You’ll note that the ‘original’ price of 9,000 Avios + £35 is not available.

How should a Gold Priority Reward be priced?

This is the million dollar question.

If you try to book a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 redemption on short-haul, you pay the ‘old’ price.  In the case of Hamburg above, this would mean 9,000 Avios + £35 for ticket one and 0 Avios + £35 for ticket two.

The issue comes when trying to book a Gold Priority Reward.

You are paying ‘double Avios’.  But ‘double’ what?

When I booked one on Monday, I paid what I expected to pay.  18,000 Avios (2 x 9,000 Avios) + £35.  This wasn’t the Avios bargain of my life but it was reasonable versus the cash cost.

Reports from other HFP readers, however, suggest that you are often asked to pay double the lowest the cost option above.  This is crazy.  In the example above, I would have been asked to pay 32,000 Avios (2 x 16,000 Avios) + £1 for an economy trip to Hamburg.  Given that you need to book a Gold Priority Reward 30 days in advance, you will rarely find dates where 32,000 Avios + £1 made sense.

Other reader reports suggest that agents are confused over what to charge but, after discussion with supervisors, charge the ‘old’ rate of 9,000 Avios (x 2) + £35.

So …. if you are booking a Gold Priority Reward on short-haul, make sure that you pay the correct amountYou can find the ‘old’ price in this HFP article listing the cost of all Avios reward flights, route by route and class by class.

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Comments

  1. OT but BA AMEX offer of 1000 Avios on £100 spend.

    Does it apply to cumulative spend or in a single transaction?

    • It is usually cumulative.

    • How many times does this have to be answered here before people will listen?!

      Look at your Amex statement. They process airline transactions at a ticket level. This means that taking you, your wife, mistresss, kids and a dog would require 6 tickets. Hence 6 lines your statement. Therefore this offer HAS to be cumulative, purely through Amex’s standard processes.

  2. Slightly OT Avios question. Looking to upgrade a flight next week to Club Europe so it can tip me over to Gold. I get all the way through after the payment screen (Amex gets a pending transaction) to a Sorry, we have been unable to complete your transaction at this time. Tried on 3 different browsers. Frustrating

    Would calling up help or will they be as useless as their IT?

    • You’ll need to phone – the telephone team can do way more than you can do online. Highlight that you have tried online and it’s failed so they waive the phone service fee.

    • This typically means the POU has gone and the website hasn’t kept up… in which case phone agents won’t be able to access it either. But it might be different I guess, so worth trying.

    • Call.

      • Done and resolved, Same price as online

        • Good outcome.

          Definitely keep email confirmations and boarding passes for this one – there’s a fair chance it won’t post correctly from my experience – you’ll need to phone again to get this sorted.

          • Yep indeed. I’ve just gone LHR>JFK return on AA in Premium and its posted as Economy. 20 TP less each way. Agent was trying to tell me AA doesn’t have premium. So thankfully uploaded proof of itinery and boarding pass, so it should get corrected.

  3. When I called GGL to book a gold priority reward, got quoted 40k avios + £35 where I expected to pay 30k avios + £35. Agent was confused, but agreed 40k price was incorrect, had to obtain supervisor’s approval and it got done at 30k avios + £35.

    I think this is a consequence of how BA implemented tax for avios trick – instead of doing it the right way, they’ve lowered the RFS fee to £0.50 per segment, then adjusted avios pricing. Simple solution, but someone hasn’t thought of consequences. Good side effect is now it costs £0.50 per segment to cancel the ticket on-line… but if taxes are lower then RFS fee (£17.50) then, regular flyers are penalised and have no option to pay original taxes. Check MAD-LHR avios pricing – taxes are £12.94 for Club ticket, yet BA will quote 20k avios + £0.50 or 15k avios + £25.50, where in the past it would be 15k avios + £12.94 only.

    • Lady London says:

      This is very interesting @Marek. As in your example of the true tax figure for flights departing Madrid, who would ever have thought British Airways would say £25 was taxes when actually only £12 of it was taxes? 🙂

  4. I had to do this a month or so ago, the agent on the phone couldnt do the old rate and had to send it off to ticketing to work it out.

    They then had to call me back becuase they couldnt get the cv2 number from the cc, and we started a merry game of phone tag, before a week later finally getting it ticketed.

    I told the agent on the phone that this idiotic policy would annoy a lot of people, and that they should give the original agent the ability to price things up according to the old price list since it would just create a lot of extra work for them.

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